The focus of this practice prompt is diction – analyzing it AND using it yourself, with a little syntax thrown in! Try it yourself and compare it with student responses and feedback given below by Fiveable teacher Candace Moore!
Fahrenheit 451 Practice Prompt
You’re going to respond to the Fahrenheit 451
passage from Monday’s stream with a thesis and two body paragraphs
. But here are some specifications
to push your writing:
- try to analyze diction (esp. to characterize Clarisse)
- include modifiers in your thesis (earthy imagery, floral metaphors)
- use 2-3 different methods to integrate quotes
- start each body paragraph with a sentence that asserts the paragraph’s argument
- put a short sentence in one or both paragraphs
- make sure you have a 2:1 ratio for commentary: evidence
Writing Samples and Feedback
Writing Sample Submission 1
In the excerpt from Fahrenheit 451, the author uses diction and syntax to Characterize Clarisse as a unique, elegant figure who quickly draws the attention and awe of Montag. The author’s use of diction is key in establishing both Clarisse’s character and the effect she has on Montag.
The words used to describe Clarisse are very descriptive and have the tone of grace and elegance. When Clarisse is first introduced, she is described as moving in a “gliding walk.” This implies that she moved smoothly and graciously. Her physical appearance is also described in great detail, such as her “slender” and “milk-white” face and its “tireless curiosity.” Everything about her is gentle and serene, and even her dress “whispered.” These words paint a character who is innocent and pristine in an attractive way.
The word choice of this passage not only describes Clarisse, it also reveals the impact that she has on Montag. When Montag encounters her up close, it is clear that he feels a wondering admiration towards her. She looked at him, “with eyes so dark and so shining and so alive that he felt he had something quite wonderful.” The detail put into describing Clarisse’s eyes indicate that Montag took a lot of time to really look at her, and her gaze made him feel happy. Her eyes are described yet again, as “shining drops of bright water” and “miraculous bits of violet amber.” When Montag sees her face again, he sees “milk crystal” with the “strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle.” Montag notices every detail of Clarisse, all in a flattering way. The word choice used by the author leaves no question as to how Clarisse affects Montag; she seems to have entranced him and he is very compelled by everything about her.
Your thesis presents an argument: Clarisse is unique and elegant, and draws Montags attention. The specificity of your ideas all appear in the first sentence, so I would recommend adding the device into your existing thesis, instead of creating another sentence that presents very little new information. 1/1
You have selected evidence that supports your diction claim well. However, be careful about using words like “descriptive” and “detail” because they are vague. Your assertion would be strengthened by deleting “are very descriptive” and focusing on the grace-related diction. In your second paragraph, your evidence is less directly connected to your commentary throughout the paragraph. You have multiple evidence points about Clarisse’s eyes, but very little commentary that clearly establishes their effect on Montag. 3/4
Writing Sample Submission 2
Thesis: In Fahrenheit 452, Ray Bradbury uses soft and white diction to characterize Clarisse as gentle and pure; Bradbury also employs dark and light juxtaposition to contrast Clarisse and Guy Montag.
Through quiet and bright diction, Bradbury characterizes Clarisse as having a small, gentle, and nonthreatening presence. Bradbury first describes Clarisse as having “the faintest whisper”. Clarisse is introduced as being quiet, which emphasizes her small persona. The repetition of similar soft diction, including how she walks “quietly” and makes “infinitely small sounds”, further reveals her gentle and small, yet not unnoticeable, disposition. Guy Montag is intrigued by his new neighbor; he does notices her, despite her underwhelming presence. Bradbury also describes Clarisse with white and bright diction; she has a “milk-white face”, a “white dress”, and face with “constant light”. Both whiteness and brightness often suggest purity and innocent, which further demonstrates her gentleness. Bradbury also describes Clarisse as having a “gentle hunger” and being “hypnotized by the salamander”, which demonstrates her curiosity and wonder for the world around her. Because of her gentleness, purity, and curiosity, Clarisse has nonthreatening impression. Guy Montag is intrigued by her interest in him, something Guy Montag probably has not encountered.
The repeated juxtaposition of light and dark demonstrates the darkness in Guy Montag compared to Clarisse’s innocence. Bradbury vividly describes Clarisse as being “white”, yet her eyes are “dark”. While this could suggest that Clarisse has an inner darkness in her, later in the passage Guy describes himself as being “dark” in her eyes, which suggests that the darkness is not coming from inside Clarisse. Eyes can reflect what is in front of them, so this suggests that Guy’s personality is dark compared to Clarisse’s. Guy is not gentle, pure, and quiet, rather he is the opposite of Clarisse’s light. Bradbury describes Clarissa as having a “flattering light of the candle”, which highlights that she brings light to the darkness without being overpowering. It is like she can bring light effortlessly. Given that Guy feels comfortable with Clarissa, she could bring light to diminish his darkness.
Very strong thesis in regards to your devices and presenting a line of reasoning. I caution you to make sure that you answer all parts of the prompt – it’s not clear in your thesis what exactly Clarisse’s impact is on Montag. For that reason, I would not award a thesis point.
Your body paragraphs, however, are very strong. You analyze Clarisse’s character through very specific references to the white and bright diction. Your line of reasoning about her “underwhelming presence” is well-supported and very neatly connected to her impact on Guy. While your second paragraph is not as strong in your use of evidence, it continues the support of your thesis. However, you have no evidence to show that Guy is “not gentle, pure and quiet”, so be careful of including analysis not supported in the passage. 4/4
Writing Sample Submission 3
In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses elements of nature to amplify the appearance of Clarisse, making her seem to be pure and natural. The idea of having Clarrise to be youthless and attractive sets her apart from the other women within the novel. Her appearance makes a mark on Montag, changing his view of his “ideal” life.
Through diction, natural elements in nature were able to make a clear distinction of what Clarisse’s appearance. Clarisse is kind and promotes a sense of youthfulness through her subtle appearance in the novel. Clarisse’s appearance even seems to have Montag stuck within an inescapable trance. She is described as having a face that "was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity". Within this quote, the audience can establish that she is a young woman who is has a passion for adventure. The youthfulness and attractiveness of Clarisse’s character have been proven undeniable as Montag loses himself within her young and subtle features. He says, “He saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold him intact”. The hold that Clarisse has over Montag supports the way her natural features has a sense of attractiveness, making her character different from other females that are portrayed in the rest of the novel. She gives Montag the chance to break away from the social norms of their dystopian society. Just her natural appearance and optimistic yet cautious outlook on life showed Montag the reality of their hopeless situation which allowed him, in the end, to break away from society and live as an outcast.
Very strong thesis! You have laid out your line of reasoning about Clarisse’s natural and youthful nature, as well as how she impacts Montag’s life. 1/1
However, it is not well-supported in your paragraphs. Your commentary seems very disconnected from the evidence. I am not clear on which elements of each quote are natural elements, and how exactly those elements convey Clarisse’s character. Perhaps you could try selecting smaller evidence points (more like 5-7 words than multiple lines) so that you can more closely focus on the meaning or connotation of those words. For example, where in the first quote do you see Clarisse’s “passion for adventure”? Make sure that you have a clear tie between your evidence and your thesis. 2/4
Writing Sample Submission 4
In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag takes his usual walk home but meets Clarisse who impacts his life by giving him clarity. The author uses gentle diction and juxtaposition of light and dark to characterize her as a quiet and serene person who refreshes Montag and brightens his darkness. However, Montag idolizes her, almost making her seem not human.
Clarisse is described using words that are related to gentleness, implying she’s a quiet and soft person. Montag first hears Clarisse’s “faintest whisper” as she stands “very quietly” in the pavement. Using words such as faintest and very, the author exaggerates how light her presence is; she doesn’t take up much space. “Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity.” From “gentle hunger” we can assume that even though shes soft-spoken, she craves to expand her knowledge and explore her curiosities. Clarisse looks upon the world with an open-mindedness. She is benevolent. Montag feels at peace and accepted in her occupancy.
The contrast of light and dark that describes Clarisse illuminates the darkness in Montag. Although she is “milk-white…almost of pale surprise” her eyes were dark as they “were so fixed to the world that no move escaped them.” Montag feels exposed as she sees him for he is. He sees himself in her eyes: tiny and dark. As she turned to look at him he sees a “soft and constant light” in her face. The light she radiates reminds him of a candle he used in his childhood and the feeling it gave him. Like that candle, Clarisse gives him comfort. In a dark room, space doesn’t seem as vast in her radiance. He feels rejuvenated. The way she invokes his emotions with her clarity highlights the differences between Clarisse and Montag: like light and dark. He wants the feelings she gives him to remain and may inspire him to a journey of rediscovery.
Just like Clarisse’s impact on Montag, we all have a special person that lightens up life. Someone that gives an exhilarating feeling and makes us question ourselves. That person can be anyone: even a stranger you meet on the street.
Very strong thesis! You have all of the parts you need, and did well in modifiers and verbs that imply that you have an understanding of the argument you will support. 1/1
You establish an argument in your assertions that continue the line of reasoning in response to the prompt. The first half of your first body paragraph is clear and insightful.
However, the second half is not as tightly analytical – you don’t draw a clear thread, for example, between Clarisse’s curiosity and her benevolence, which unfortunately detracts from the power of your short sentence. Your second body paragraph is stronger and better organized, though, in explaining how the contrasts function in the meaning of the work, although your commentary does not all stem directly from the evidence. 3/4
Note: Make sure that your quotes are always part of a sentence, and not stand-alone sentences, ever.
Writing Sample Submission 5
In the short excerpt from Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury relies heavily on diction and imagery to characterize Clarisse. When Bradbury does this it forms the characterization of Clarisse to be that of a refreshing youthful pure woman, in contrast to the firemen Montag, who now is in awe of Clarisse and starts to change his perspective from the only world he has known.
The diction of Clarisse is very soft and gentle and creates a sense of serenity surrounding Clarisse. Montag sees her face as slender and describes her as small and quiet, nothing about this seems about of the ordinary. Yet Montag sees this and is pulled in by this quiet calm women. Bradbury describes her in simple yet peaceful ways, with “bright shining and alive” eyes, that suggest she is curious and Montag wants to know why. She is described as talking slowly and her voice the “faintest whisper”, suggesting she isn’t in a rush and wants to talk to Montag and get his attention. Clarisse is the opposite of Montag, who is a fireman that burns books, he is fire and she is gentle and pure. Clarisse continues to pull him in as they walk and talk through her “thoughtful” words and her being “hypnotized” by the salamander on his arm and phoenix on his chest. Montag is drawn to Clarisse by her quiet peaceful nature, that throws him off on his way home. The diction describing Clarisse emphasizes how drawn in Montag is of Clarisse as she talks about how she isn’t afraid of firemen, surprising Montag as he thinks back to his childhood.
The author also employs imagery to create a sense of aura around Clarisse to show her in a majestic earthy way. Clarisse is seen as almost being “carried forward” by the wind and leaves as if she is one with nature, this pulls Montag deeper towards Clarisse and her pureness, because this image is so peaceful. He then sees her “fragile” face that is soft and a “constant light” which shows a brightness and sunny disposition of her, making her seem similar to a flame or the sun. But the light in Clarisse’s eyes continues to shine, pulling Montag in and surprising him yet again. This earthy aura around Clarisse is what makes her so refreshing and different from what Montag has ever seen before, this strong imagery creates a sense of what Montag feels towards Clarisse.
You have a strong thesis that answers the prompt thoroughly. You didn’t make the challenge bullet point of including modifiers to imply line of reasoning, but that doesn’t take away your thesis point. 1/1
Your body paragraphs are solid, with a mix of character and impact to address the prompt. But the evidence in your second paragraph does not consistently support your assertion of a “majestic earthy” characterization of Clarisse. The second paragraph also repeats ideas already argued in the first; consider organizing by idea or prompt part instead of by device so you do not have to use different devices to make the same commentary in separate paragraphs. 3/4
Writing Sample Submission 6
The except taken from Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury use of diction characterizes Clarisse as an elegant and mysterious figure closely related to the autumnal season, that quickly draws in Montag with awe. Having her characterized as such a figure makes Clarisse stand out similar to Montag, a fireman, who stands out himself.
Montags first encounter with Clarisse was magical in every sense of the word. The autumn wind made it seem as if Clarisse was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, this captured the attention Montag, who already had an odd feeling of the night. This scene also adds to the characterization of Clarisse natural mystery, being able to manipulate the wind and convey the illusion of walking with motion in an otherwise stagnant setting. Furthering Montag’s captivation over Clarisse is the juxtaposition of her features; her face was slender and milk-white, yet she had dark eyes. Juxtaposing light and dark elements with one another, Bradbury captures the mysterious characteristic of nature. Clarisse herself is a representation of the autumn, a time that is both light yet has dark features.
Both Clarisse and Montag stand out from the rest of the crowd, one being a fireman and the other being this elegant force of nature. Clarisse, too, was captivated by Montag, she seemed hypnotized by the salamander on his arm and the phoenix disc on his chest. Clarisse was struck at first, realizing that Montag was a fireman, someone people admire and fear, yet she converses with Montag claiming that she You know, I’m not afraid of you at all." She sympathizes with Montag since she also stands out and might be considered to be hard to approach, she sees Montag as only a man, that his job is irrelevant to his person. Both seem to be drawn to each other and nature was the catalyst that brought both of them together.
Strong thesis and use of modifiers for the character and the diction. 1/1
Interesting analysis of Clarisse’s magical nature. However, your commentary is interpretive without being consistently analytical – what is the significance of Clarisse’s magic, and how does it impact Montag, i.e. it captivates him, but what does that do for him? The second paragraph is much weaker in evidence and connection to your thesis, and does not analyze through the lens of literary devices. 2/4
Writing Sample Submission 7
In Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the writer emphasizes the dynamic juxtaposition between Clarisse’s physical fragility and her powerful presence and insightful intelligence. In addition, Bradbury makes deft use to vivid imagery and contrasting dictions to ensure the reader can experience Clarisse’s formless influence on Guy Montag intimately.
Clarisse’s physical weakness is punctuated by Bradbury’s overweighted choice of details as well as the powerful presence of the wind. Nevertheless, Bradbury is not stingy with his juxtaposition to show Clarisse’s contradictory yet stark brilliance. Clarisse is characterized as a “soft”, “slender”, and “tender” girl with a “faintest…whisper”. The narrator is able to create a soundless atmosphere with a slight, almost unnoticeable presence of Clarisse, showing that she is a fragile, weak character before Guy Montag. Clarisse is not only weak in front of Montag but also in front of the wind. She notices the “stir” of her shoelaces while “letting the motion of wind and leaves carry her forward”. This further creates a more passive role for Clarisse as a delicate girl who seems unable to defeat the omnipotent nature. The narrator’s selection of detail indicates that Clarisse is observant in her relationship with the world that surrounds her, as little as the wind blowing her shoelace. Nevertheless, Clarisse’s weakness is juxtaposed with her soulful, “tireless(ly) curious” dark eyes, which is a contrast with her pale milk-white skin. While her appearance renders the feeling of death, emaciation, the “gentle hunger” is not merely physical but an intellectual hunger of Clarisse, perhaps books. Her eyes bring her character life, joy, and power despite the well-built Guy Montag or strong nature. In contrast with her body, her eyes are fixed on the nature. They are almost archenemy of the wind: her eyes do not escape, waver, or condescend. In addition, Clarisse seems to ask a lot of questions, signified by the repetition and personification of her physical features “whispering”. This not only establishes a tone of inquiry but also highlights the contradicting characterization between Clarisse’s undesired physical qualities and her ingenious mental qualities.
Clarisse’s influence on Montag is significant despite him being in a simple, everyday scene. This is achieved by the narrator’s use of imagery and Clarisse’s characterization that defies not only the expectation of the reader but that of Montag. The imagery is picturesque and lively among the quietness and peaceful setting, which provides an opportunity for Montag to notice the details of Clarisse: the narrator appeals to senses with sound and sight. Montag not only can hear the “sound of hand” but also can feel and see that Clarisse has “miraculous violet” eyes and is “turning him end for end” as well as “shaking him quietly”. This illustrates a formless, intimate, quiet influence Clarisse has on Montag through his experience told in third-person limited narration. It further builds up the irony how a weaker Clarisse has such leverage over Montag, holds his mind toward her, and earns his full attention. Clarisse also defies Montag’s expectation of a little girl. She is not only fearless when seeing Montag, a fireman, but also fixes her eyes on him, not triggered, and talks to him with grace and confidence. This also contradicts the reader’s expectation of Clarisse based on the former mentioning of her dainty appearance, creating a strong emphasis on how powerful and impactful Clarisse is in building the senses of Montag. She becomes not merely a stranger passing by, but a more vivid character who renders Montag’s memory of childhood, makes Montag curious about her background and intelligence, and bewilders Montag with her insightful comment on the firemen.
Your thesis is strong in argument, but has a couple grammatical missteps that would not affect your thesis score (“deft use to vivid imagery”, “dictions”). 1/1
Your first body paragraph is strong, with persuasive commentary regarding Clarisse’s characterization. However, the other side of the juxtaposition is not as well-supported with evidence, and relies on inferences that are not clearly tied back to the passage (her focus on nature and "ingenious mental qualities). The same is true for the second paragraph, which begins grounded in evidence, but then veers from the text. While Clarisse is small and quiet, the characterization/contrast of Montag is not text-based enough to be analysis and not conjecture. 2/4
Writing Sample Submission 8
By developing images associated with light and innocence and juxtaposing Clarisse’s fair complexion with her dark eyes, Bradbury characterizes Clarisse by her purity and suggests that the light within her is both comforting and unsettling for Montag.
Bradbury incorporates delicate images that connote purity and daintiness in order to establish her gentle innocence. He describes Clarisse’s face as a “pale” “fragile milk crystal” and mentions her flowing “white” dress. Bradbury’s selection of the images “pale,” “milk,” and “crystal” emphasizes the “white” quality of Clarisse’s appearance, playing to the archetype that associates the color white with innocence and purity, thus depicting Clarisse as a gentle and innocent character. Bradbury further develops Clarisse’s innocent character by describing her dainty, floating movements that appear to let “the motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward.” The lightness in Clarisse’s walk portray her gentle and almost angelic character. By developing images that illustrate Clarisse’s ethereal purity, Bradbury characterizes her as tender and innocent.
Bradbury juxtaposes Clarisse’s radiance with her piercing dark eyes, suggesting that the light Clarisse exudes both warms Montag and exposes him to her scrutiny. Bradbury describes Clarisse’s light as “strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering,” which implies that Clarisse’s figurative luminance soothes Montag and highlights his best qualities. At the same time, Clarisse’s presence is unsettling. Bradbury describes Clarisse’s “dark and shining” eyes as “so fixed to the world that no move escaped them,” and Montag feels as if they could “capture” him. By comparing Clarisse’s luminance with the darkness in her eyes, Bradbury demonstrates that Clarisse is both casting a spotlight onto Montag and examining him with her captivating and unescapable gaze. Despite Clarisse’s warmth and gentleness, Montag’s discomfort and vulnerability towards her shine through.
You have a strong thesis, and it is very clear how you intend to analyze Clarisse and her impact. 1/1
Your paragraph follows the line of reasoning you establish in your thesis, and your selection of evidence is strong. If it seems as though your analysis does not move forward because of repetition, your diction can make a difference there – varying your word choice conveys your own comfort with your argument. Also, you do not have to give all of the pieces at once: for example, you could save the “connote purity and daintiness” idea for its second appearance in the paragraph instead of the assertion. Think of the assertion as the stem, the evidence as the leaves, and the commentary as the flower; this puts the bulk of the beauty in the commentary, and the other parts are support. Also, white does connote innocence, but you don’t have any other evidence that supports innocence as well as its supports purity and daintiness, so it stays undeveloped as an idea. The second paragraph is stronger, although Clarisse’s impact on Montag is not as well developed as your analysis of her eyes. 3/4
Writing Sample Submission 9
In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses both diction and syntax in order to establish a friendly, yet perplexing relationship between Guy Montag and Clarisse, and to also characterize Clarisse as a mysterious and pure character.
Bradbury uses certain words to describe the way that Montag and Clarisse interact with each other that gives the story an eerie and mysterious feeling. For example, When conversing, Clarisse “trails off,” and she talks “slowly,” and in “awe.” These word choices reveal the Clarisse is being very observant of Montag and is almost studying him. This is perplexing because normally when you met someone, you are friendly and upbeat, not slow and attentive. Montag also described her presence as “he felt she was walking in circles about him, turning him end for end, shaking him quietly, and emptying his pockets, without once moving herself.” By using phrases like “turning him end from end,” and “shaking him quietly,” show that Montag felt like she was judging him and observing him. These interactions and word choices from the author show that Clarisse’s and Montag’s interactions were very odd and peculiar, compared to how people normally interact with one another.
Brdbury also uses diction to characterize Clarisse. She was described as having a “milk-white face,” Everything about her was described as “white,” her clothes, her movements, and her facial expressions. White is a color used to symbolize purity, innocence, and cleanliness. By associating the color and word “white” with Clarisse, she is characterized as a innocent girl, who is untouched by the dirtiness and filth of the world that Montag is from. Clarisse is Montag’s juxtaposition, he resembles the bad of the world they live in and she resembles the good.
Your thesis is solid in format, although there could be an important distinction between “impact” and “relationship”. 1/1
Note on phrasing: If your assertion is focused on your prompt-focused argument, you will modify/describe the words used, not the feelings created. Then after interpreting the meaning or connotation of the words, make sure you connect that interpretation to your overall argument (e.g. why does it matter that Clarisse’s behavior is different than normal, and how does that impact him?). Also, the commentary about Montag’s world is unsupported by evidence, weakening that portion of the argument. 2/4